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Biden Proposes Raising Tax on Billionaires to Help Fund Worker Initiatives

Picture taken from the air of U.S. Capitol with the Supreme Court, Library of Congress and in the distance a stadium behind it

President Joe Biden delivered his third State of the Union address on March 7, proposing a minimum tax of 25 percent on billionaires to help fund a number of worker-friendly initiatives. He said his proposal would raise $500 billion over the next 10 years.

“Imagine what that could do for America,” Biden said. “Imagine a future with affordable child care so millions of families can get the care they need and still go to work and help grow the economy.” His proposal also would help facilitate paid leave. SHRM supports a voluntary federal insurance market that allows employers to fund paid leave benefits by tapping into pooled resources.

“Imagine a future with home care and elder care so seniors and people living with disabilities can stay in their homes and family caregivers get paid what they deserve!” Biden added.

He said that no billionaire should pay a lower tax rate than a teacher, sanitation worker or a nurse, but the current average federal tax rate for the nation’s 1,000 U.S. billionaires is 8.2 percent, “far less than the vast majority of Americans pay.”

Biden called on raising the corporate minimum tax to at least 21 percent “so every big corporation finally begins to pay their fair share.”

“Wall Street didn’t build this country! The middle class built this country! And unions built the middle class!” Biden said. He recognized UAW President Shawn Fain, who was present at the State of the Union and who Biden called “a great friend and a great labor leader.” Biden added, “I was proud to be the first president in American history to walk a picket line.”

Toward the end of his speech, Biden called on Congress to pass the Equality Act and the labor-friendly PRO Act and to raise the federal minimum wage.

In the GOP response to the State of the Union, Sen. Katie Britt, R-Ala., criticized the Biden administration for “the worst inflation in 40 years. … Hardworking families are struggling to make ends meet today. And with soaring mortgage rates and sky-high child care costs, they’re also struggling to plan for tomorrow.”

She appealed to parents and, in particular, mothers. “I know you’re frustrated,” Britt said. “I know you’re probably disgusted by most of what you see going on in Washington. And I’ll be really honest with you—you’re not wrong for feeling that way.”

However, Britt added, “America has been tested before, and every single time, we’ve emerged unbowed and unbroken.” She said that “despite the current state of our union, our best days are still ahead.”

Emily M. Dickens, SHRM chief of staff and head of public affairs, issued the following statement in response to Biden’s speech: “SHRM is guided by the principle of 'Policy, Not Politics.' Accordingly, SHRM views the State of the Union address as an opportunity to focus on critical policy issues facing work, workers and workplaces. This important policy event reminds us about the deep responsibility of governance and a return to civility.”

U.S. workers themselves, as highlighted in SHRM’s State of the Workplace report, identified civility as a crucial element for organizational effectiveness. This belief inspired the launch of SHRM’s Civility Campaign, urging both workplaces and Congress to prioritize respectful communication and collaboration, among other top workplace policy issues.

We’ve gathered articles on the State of the Union and related news from SHRM Online and other media outlets.

Forceful Speech

President Joe Biden turned his State of the Union address into a muscular campaign kickoff, never once uttering former President Donald Trump’s name but repeatedly invoking the challenge posed by his likely general election foe. The overtly political tone underscored the stakes of the night for the president.


Recent Call for More Bipartisanship

Biden’s State of the Union speech came less than two weeks after the president and Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican who is chairman of the National Governors Association, said there should be less bitterness in politics and more bipartisanship. “Politics has gotten too personally bitter,” Biden said.

(SHRM Online)

Paid Leave as a Priority

In last year’s State of the Union, Biden urged the enactment of paid family and medical leave. In addition, at a Feb. 2 press conference marking the 30th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act last year, Biden called for extended support for time-off benefits and announced he had signed a memorandum laying out a national program of paid family and medical leave for employees. Biden subsequently proposed a $325 billion paid-family-leave program.

(SHRM Online, SHRM Online and SHRM Online)

Next Stop for Unions: More Organizing

A key question to watch this year is whether the UAW’s deals last year with automakers and the Teamsters’ agreement with UPS can be converted into organizing victories, according to Martin Malin, founding director of Chicago-Kent College of Law’s Martin H. Malin Institute for Law and the Workplace in Chicago. The Teamsters are trying to organize nonunion logistics companies and Amazon, while the UAW is attempting to unionize foreign car manufacturers with factories in the U.S., he said. In addition, the UAW is seeking to organize Tesla. On Feb. 21, the UAW announced it is committing $40 million through 2026 to unionize more autoworkers and battery workers.

(SHRM Online and SHRM Online)


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